Jamestrong plans to recycle aluminium aerosol cans

A new partnership between Jamestrong, a regional manufacturer of metal cans for leading Australian and international brands, and the UNSW SMaRT Centre are developing a ground-breaking project to revolutionise aluminium manufacturing and recycling in Australia.

The partnership will establish Jamestrong as the one of the first aluminium aerosol can producers in the world to not only make aerosol cans from recycled content, but from waste currently not recycled because it contains mixed materials including plastics.

Funded by Jamestrong and UNSW under the Australian Government sponsored Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy (TRaCE) program, this Green Aluminium partnership will commercialise UNSW SMaRT Centre’s advanced MICROfactorie recycling technology into Jamestrong’s can manufacturing process at its plant in Taree, New South Wales.

Jamestrong CEO, Alex Commins said Jamestrong was excited to be at the forefront of recycling initiatives in the metal packaging sector, creating a more sustainable future for Jamestrong and its customers. 

He said the Green Aluminium MICROfactorie partnership would boost local employment at the plant and pave the way for continued progress in sustainable packaging globally.

“With UNSW SMaRT Centre we are advancing our aluminium casting line capabilities in the existing footprint of our plant in Taree, which will reshore the manufacture process of aluminium slugs that we currently import from Thailand. The UNSW SMaRT Centre partnership will mean recycled aluminium will be introduced into Jamestrong’s aerosol can production process, and the slugs produced on the new casting line will be used in the plant’s extrusion process to manufacture more than 100 million aerosol cans per year,” he said.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the UNSW SMaRT Centre said the partnership with Jamestrong had the potential to transform the use and re-use of aluminium by aligning recycling and manufacturing of mixed waste content that is currently not subject to traditional recycling processes.

“Our Green Aluminium MICROfactorie technology is able to recover aluminium from a range of mixed waste feedstocks including waste packaging. The innovative recovery of the recycled aluminium will be incorporated directly into the manufacturing process producing slugs, with varying degrees of recycled content available depending on production requirements.”

“Every atom of aluminium that exists in our society, whether in multi-layered form or any other format, can actually be regenerated and brought back to life over and over again, and that’s what we’re doing with Jamestrong right here in Taree.”

Jamestrong is one of the largest private company employers in Taree, with 85 FTE people operating the can manufacturing site which celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2021. The new casting line will employ an additional 30 FTE staff during construction and 15 FTE in operation. As part of the partnership with the UNSW SMaRT Centre, additional technicians and scientists will also be on-site.

While an exact date for implementation is yet to be determined, it is expected that the initial phase of creating a new $8 million aluminium casting line will be completed by about the middle of 2024.

Once operational, technologies developed at the UNSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre micro-factory will be tested at the Jamestrong site, supplying a real-time production environment to fully evaluate the recycling processes.

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